Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

An Unexpected Treat

Friday, October 2nd, 2015
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I get the WEBS emails, just like you do. Last week, one sprang out at me, featuring a yarn I had heard about but not really seen (I work tucked away in one of the offices and am not out in the store as much as I want to be!). Amano is a lovely group of yarns in enough weights to satisfy any knitter, crocheter, or weaver, all featuring some iteration of alpaca–baby, royal, and an important-sounding alpaca designated “Imperial,” which obviously makes it the Homecoming King this year. Late-breaking news: Royal is the TOP 1% of alpaca fiber, Imperial is the next 2-10%. So, royal is the Homecoming King and imperial, obviously, is the guy who fixes the overhead projector.

Amano Ayni is my new best friend. 80% baby alpaca, 20% silk, this sport-weight dream of a skein has a hint of halo, enough to say “I’m soft, but not scratchy.” I am imagining a drapy A-line sweater, soft enough to wear next to the skin. Warmi (is that the best name for a yarn? yes.) is a worsted-weight workhorse, perfect for sweaters, shawls, hats, or scarves. It’s got a lush color palette inspired by fruits and vegetables.

The new Amano yarns now available at Read more on the WEBS Blog at

Puna means “Andes Mountains” in the native language of the Incas, and is the essence of the Andes, made from 100% baby alpaca in a beefy 273-yard skein. It’s got a little more halo than Ayni, so I’d treat it a bit more gently, and my perfect project for this sport-weight wonder is the Delia Cowl in Amano’s pattern book for Fall/Winter. The simple openwork contrasts with the warmth of the alpaca to make a very useful garment.

The dip-dyed colorways of Mayu would be a wonderful vehicle for a body-conscious sweater– the addition of cashmere and silk to alpaca makes it almost criminally soft, and the heathery tones almost gleam, showing off the myriad shades in the skein. Puyu means “cloud” in the language of the Incas, and it does look very cloudlike. Baby alpaca is blown into a mesh tube made of silk for an almost two-tone appearance that will make luxurious accessories like hats, scarves, and even ponchos look expensive. Rounding out the Amano family is Apu (“Simpsons” fans will join me in a round of giggles), a dainty ball of imperial alpaca that I can’t stop holding. The Maria Cowl in Amano‘s pattern collection seems like the perfect project in Apu, with startling stitch definition and a drapy texture that caresses the skin.

Check out this new family online or in the store–you’ll want to make friends immediately. What project are you looking forward to knitting in an Amano yarn?

Knitting Through the Years

Friday, July 31st, 2015
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Recently, a friend told me about her mother, a knitter and crafter, who has been having some memory problems. She wants to keep knitting but she has problems counting her stitches, and following patterns if they aren’t right in front of her, clearly marked. It made me think about what we carry here that would be helpful, and I thought I’d let you in on what I found.

Knitting tools to help with memory and keeping track of projects, on the WEBS Blog at

First of all, the Knitter’s Pride Large Pattern Holder seems like a lifesaver. It’s big enough to hold a pattern straight up, or any series of charts so that you don’t have to keep shuffling papers around (my friend’s mother has NO use for technology, so unfortunately paper patterns are her go-to). The magnetic straight-edge holds everything firmly against the backing, and also can be used as a row marker so she doesn’t lose her place.

The Bryspun Rainbow Rings are great stitch markers; colorful enough to stand out from your stitches, and rubber, so they stay put. They come in a variety of sizes, so they’ll fit on pretty much any size needles. The Clover Split Ring Markers are good for hanging on your stitches; if you have a pattern repeat you can mark it off so that you don’t have to remember where to start or how many stitches are in the repeat. They’re easy as pie to move around, too, so that if you increase or decrease, you don’t need to worry that you’ve lost any stitches.

Everyone’s favorite row counter, the Clover Kacha Kacha Knitting Counter, makes a very definitive CLICK and goes up to 99, which is a lot of satisfying clicking. I’ve used one of these since I started knitting and I’ve never had to replace mine. They last forever. Clover also makes a locking row counts, called a Mini. The beauty of this one is that if it gets pushed around in your knitting bag, it won’t change numbers accidentally. It also has a little loop that you can thread some yarn or string through to  make it a pendant so you don’t forget about it if you get up from your knitting chair to get a cocktail glass of iced tea.

The CocoKnits Knitter’s Keep is the most brilliant thing ever. It’s a slap bracelet (that makes SUCH a satisfying sound) that comes with metal cable needle, stitch markers, all kinds of things you need to keep track of while knitting or crocheting. And you just attach them to your bracelet and it holds it for you. Genius. No more turning around in circles while you try to locate a stray needle.

If you are a crocheter, Addi makes ergonomic hooks that don’t tax arthritic fingers. I’m told that the Knitter’s Pride Cubics needles serve the same function, but I bet there are needles specifically for sore hands and wrists out there.

The last thing I thought might be a great addition to a knitting bag are the Nancy’s Knit Knacks Project Cards. You can note what the project you knit was, for whom it was knit, the start and finish date, and any notes – for instance, if you cut out a set of increases, or made the sleeves shorter. Frankly, I could use these myself, since once I finish a project, I often throw it right out of my mind as I hurtle onto the next knitted object.

What have you seen in your LYS that might help you keep crafting as you age? Because I certainly want to keep crafting!

Holidays in July: Keeping Track of it All

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
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Now that you’ve created your list, and  you know what yarns and projects, you should probably decide how you want to organize all of this info. Are you a pen and paper person? Do you prefer a computer? Your smartphone? You need to pick what’s best for you. If you prefer physically crossing things off a list, you might want to use a notebook. If you, like many of us, live on your smartphone, you may want to utilize an app.

Holidays in July: Keeping Track of It All

Pen and Paper Person?
Head to your favorite office supply, or even better, paper store and peruse the notebooks. There is great joy in selecting a new notebook with fresh pages that’s just waiting to be filled up. Consider how you’ll want to keep track? Are you going to want to dedicate one page per person? (You can draw a big ‘x’ through the page when you finish the project.) Would you like to use lined paper, or maybe graph paper? Again, you need to think about how you’ll function best. I like the idea of using a page per person, especially in a smaller notebook, like a pocket Moleskin.

Computer Savvy?
Do spreadsheets make you grin from ear-to-ear? Does having information saved on a computer make you more comfortable than a notebook that can be lost? Spreadsheets may be the way to go for you. You can organize the columns however you like. Name of the recipient, project name, yarn being used, anything else you need for the project, finish date for the project. You could even include things like start date, halfway point date (where you need to be halfway done), or a column for a contingency gift just in case (which you won’t need, since we’re planning ahead). One of my favorite things is color-coding. I’d probably color code the people by priority level and then the projects by type. If there are several hats on the list, and I’m feeling particularly excited about making hats for a few weeks, I can easily spot them on the spreadsheet and knock them out. When you complete a project, you can gray out the cells, or use strikethrough to mark it finished.

Smartphone Addict?
Nearly everyone I know has some version of a smartphone, and there are tons and tons of different organizational apps. If you’re an organized person, chances are, you already have your favorite. Mine depend on what I’m doing. For example, for something like grocery shopping, I use Clear. This app is basically a list-maker. You can swipe to check the item off the list. If you want something more robust that handles more information, you may want to check out something like 2Do, or Swipes, which integrates with Evernote. Because organization is such a personal thing, you want to use the app that’s best for you.

How will you keep yourself organized?


Jo Sharp Is Back!

Friday, May 8th, 2015
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The first time I worked at WEBS (this is the third time I’ve worked at WEBS, just for the sake of context), I got to work with Jo Sharp to arrange a visit to the store. She did a talk about her designs and explained how those beautiful yarns got to be so beautiful.

And then, her yarns weren’t here.

Jo Sharp yarns and pattern PDFs available at

And now, they’re back! And we’ve got them. It really was like meeting up with an old friend as I perused the neat balls in their side-by-side glass cubes in the place of honor in the store. Hello, Silkroad Aran Tweed–remember the fun we had when we made that hat and scarf for my kid? Why, howdy, DK Cotton.  Don’t take it personally, but I’m still passing you by. I love your squishy softness, but cotton is not my thing.  And…RRRROWWWRRR, Alpaca Kid Lustre. You are inspiring me in a major way. There is much I want to knit you up in.

Luckily, Jo and her team have sent tons of patterns for these classics. The Keyhole Vest in Alpaca Kid Lustre is going right onto my needles. The Tweed Cardigan is next. When I send my oldest off to the coldest college in the universe, I’d like him to have The Bistro Sweater packed into his suitcase to remind him that you can, too, knit love.

What would inspire you to revisit a much-loved yarn?

Yarn Tasting,Trunk Shows and Fun…Oh My!

Thursday, February 5th, 2015
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Have you ever wanted a chance to sample a yarn before you buy it? Well now you can! We are hosting a Cascade Yarn Tasting on February 12 from  6-7:30 pm. Come try out the wide variety of Cascade yarns that we carry, including their new Spring yarns and check out all the wonderful pattern support. You might get inspired to start a new project! We’ll raffle some fabulous prizes throughout the evening and provide snacks for you to enjoy, you’ll even have the opportunity to get a free set of Colonial Blonde circular needles when you purchase $40 of regularly priced Cascade yarn! This event is free, but registration is required

Cascade Yarn Tasting February 12th 6:00pm-7:30pm at WEBS retail Store in Northampton MA - more details at

If you visit the store in mid February you’ll see the stylish and cozy garments from knitwear designer Cirilia Rose in the trunk show from her new book, Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads. Cirilia began her knitwear career at WEBS while a student at UMASS, and has worked with important knitwear companies such as Berroco, Skacel and currently , New Zealand mill Woolyarns. Over 20 garments and accessories will be available for you to discover in this trunk show, and you can pick up a copy of her book while you’re here.

Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads Trunk Show at WEBS retail store in February - more details at


There are always book signings, trunk shows and special events happening in our store, be sure to check our calendar and the Events listing to see what’s coming!


Candle’s Glow

Friday, December 5th, 2014
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It’s almost Hanukkah! Hanukkah is really such a minor holiday in the Jewish lineup, but it gets a lot of play because it usually happens within a month or so of Christmas, which obviously gets major play. I think a lot of folks think it’s the counterpart to Christmas. In any case, it starts on December 16th. I’m sure a lot of you will be giving knitted, crocheted, or woven gifts for the Festival of Lights. I’ve compiled a few ideas that would go well with latkes and sufganyiot (the delicious fried jelly doughnuts that are traditional at Hanukkah).

knitted menorahNo discussion of menorah-craft would be complete without an homage to this fantastic pattern designed by my dear friend Ping Wood: A knitted menorah with knitted candles, and a pocket to keep them in! Genius, I tell you. She even designed a spin-off, a knitted Advent Candle hanging. Candles and pine boughs are always classy.candles and pine boughs

While poking around on Ravelry, I found this menorah pillow in Melanie Falick’s beautiful book Handknit Holidays, which has gorgeous knitted gifts for every winter holiday. This pillow is knit in creamy white, and I think it’s set off beautifully.

creamy white menorah pillow

Photo credit: Moontea

Quirky woodcut holiday cardsLastly, my enormously creative co-workers have designed some holiday fun that you’ll enjoy year-round. Jamie Sweeney did quirky and cool woodcut cards that would be fun to include with a gift or sent on their own to friends to say “howdy.” Gail Callahan, AKA KangarooDyer, dyed these luxurious silk scarves that are not only gorgeous but useful (under a scratchy turtleneck, or to add flair to a woolen overcoat). Proceeds from both of these gifts goes to Safe Passage, a local institution that provides shelter and necessities to women and families who have been victims of domestic violence.hand-dyed silk scarves for Safe Passage

Enjoy this winter’s joys!

Seeing Red

Friday, November 21st, 2014
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Red is not only a very Christmas-y color, it’s also one of my personal favorite colors. It has to be the right red, however; not orange or blueish red. I like a rich, true, warm red, and maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems to make prettier presents.

I looked through the store for some eye-catching reds to knit a little holiday fun and came up with quite a few that I’ll tell you about. Folks from my tribe, never fear: I’ll do a Hanukkah blue-and-white post next time and include a little pattern fun in that one!soft and squishy warmth

HiKoo Zumie is a big luscious hank of yarn. It’s a bulky yarn that knits up at 2 or 2.5 stitches/inch on a US 13 needle, but it really goes a long way. It’s an acrylic/wool/nylon amalgam, with a slight fuzz. We’ve made the cowl pattern that you’ll find on the inside label of the yarn (free gift for you!) in Crimson and this would be a great quick knit for when you’re heading down the finish line for gifts.

loft and warmth make great giftsLouisa Harding Susurro is a chainette constructed 100% alpaca yarn, so it’s light and lofty and will knit up in a jiffy. It’s a true worsted-weight, with a gauge of 4.5 sts/inch on US size 10 needles. Louisa Harding yarns are so reliable and I’ve used several over the years. The color of this skein is called Rosehip, which makes it sound like yummy tea. This would make such a nice, warm hat for a favorite cousin, or a throw for sitting in front of a fire as you roast chestnuts. Does anyone actually do that? I hope so.luxurious cashmere and silk

For your beloved, go get a skein or two of Jade Sapphire Silk Cashmere in Seeing Red. Don’t even think about it. It’s just the softest, silkiest, most true red I’ve seen. You’ll have to take a deep breath to reconcile the price ($37.00 a skein), but it’s a whopping 400 yards, at a fingering weight, so a lacy short shawl or scarf is just right for one skein.

I’m breaking with tradition for my last pick–Rowan Brushed Fleece. It doesn’t have a great warm red, but there is a snowy, ivory color called Cove that would make a great accent. You could stripe a hat, knit the heel and toe of a sock, or make a long candy-cane swirled scarf. I just love Rowan and this bulky behemoth would knit up in a flash if you’ve left a gift for the night before Christmas.halo of creamy white

To paraphrase the Starks on Game of Thrones…Christmas is coming. What will you be making for the holidays?

#HotChocolateHolidays Workshops Are Open for Business!

Friday, October 10th, 2014
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As many of you know, WEBS is a big supporter of Safe Passage, an organization here in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts that helps women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. Safe Passage produces what is arguably the most fun way of raising money every year, and that is The Hot Chocolate Run, a 2-mile walk/5K run in early December. The Hot Chocolate Run (and yes, Virginia, there IS hot chocolate at the finish!) has grown from a few hundred intrepid runners in its infancy to over 5,000 runners and walkers, all of whom are united in raising money to help this worthy cause, and in their dedication to drinking hot chocolate from the mugs that are handed out to each participant.

Your customized lip balm

WEBS has sponsored this event for many years, and this year, fresh off some exhausting fund-raising I did last year for Safe Passage, I thought I’d join in the spirit of giving in a bigger way and conceived the #HotChocolateHolidays Workshops. Three local crafting entities have joined with WEBS to host a fun-night-out to teach a DIY skill  that can be a gift for a special someone for the winter holidays or even a gift you give yourself. The best part is that a percentage of the kits bought to make the crafts will go right to Safe Passage.

hot chocolate beads and charmsThe Haberdashery is a way-cool space in a neighboring town and they bill themselves as “Gifts and Guidance for Crafty Homesteaders,” and that encapsulates their mission. Melody Litwin will teach budding fashionistas how to make lipstick and lip balm on October 30. The Northampton Beadery ‘s Brenda McGirk will showcase some hot-chocolate colored beaded bracelets with AMAZINGLY CUTE hot chocolate and running shoe charms on November 13.

gorgeous gift bags


And Tess Poe from Beehive Sewing Studio, a maker-space right down the street from us, will help attendees make a gift-bag set and give out beautiful handmade gift tags. All the workshops are only $10 each, and are held right here at WEBS.It would be great to have theseworkshops fill right up, and that’s where you come in! Sign up, bring a friend, learn a craft, give a wonderful organization a chance to help as many victims as possible. It’s not to soon to start stockpiling those gifts for the moment you realize that you need a fun stocking-stuffer or gift bag and it’s 8:00pm on a Sunday night. Join us!


Every Place I Look, Delights Abound

Friday, August 1st, 2014
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It seems like every time I leave my desk to walk through the store, a new,  delicious yarn announces itself to me, and because I’m an enabler with a giant stash, I want to share this love with you, dear reader. I hope that you’ll love these yarns as well, and knit the things I want to knit but never have time for. In this post, I will share not one but two new Fall yarns, designed to make your heart beat a little faster.

Swan’s Island is a real place in Maine, although Swan’s Island Yarns isn’t located there anymore. The rockbound coast of Maine...The fact that it is in Maine it integral to the spirit of these yarns, however, and that’s what counts. I’ve adored both the fingering and worsted weight Swan’s Island yarns, and now there’s a new one to love: Swan’s Island DK. The most beautiful, rich colorways, and also — SUPERWASH. How A colorful fall cornucopiagreat is that? The gauge is a very useful 5 1/4 sts to 1″ on a US size 6 needle (or size you’ll need to get that gauge–I’m a notoriously loose knitter and often have to go down a size or two). But what I like even more is the ethos of the owner’s of Swan’s Island Yarns to hand-make all their products with local and organic materials and to keep as much of their business based in the US as possible. You’ll love making a baby sweater for a cherished child or a comfy fall cardi for yourself in any of the rich hues of this yarn.

Classic Elite natural woolMy other favorite yarn (this week) is Classic Elite’s Mohawk Wool. Made in a beautifully halo’d 60% merino, 30% Romney wool, 10% nylon, this undyed natural fiber is just begging to be knit into a luxuriously cabled Aran sweater, or lovingly crafted into a throw or blanket for snuggling under when November rain turns into December snow. Classic Elite’s pattern support is legendary and you’ll find plenty to make out of this workhorse yarn, also in a DK/Sport weight. I love this textured hat, which would be a fairly quick project with a lot of bang for your knitting buck.Texture...and buttons!


Color Me Amazed

Friday, May 23rd, 2014
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A lot of knitters like to use hand-dyed yarns like Madelinetosh, Lorna’s Laces, or Prism. A fair number of those knitters are disappointed when they experience color pooling, or when they don’t like the way one color in the skein works with another one. artful color, mindful knitsMaybe they’ve done a broken rib stitch and noticed that what they had hoped would be specks of dark blue against a rose background turned into big blotches of purple. There are lots of ways to learn how to work with hand-dyed yarns and I’ve found the absolute best resource of all to not only learn to work with those variegated yarns but to actually plan for how those colors show up in your garment. Laura Militzer Bryant, the founder of Prism Yarns, has written a new book entitled Artful Color, Mindful Knits: A Definitive Guide to Working with Hand-Dyed Yarns, and it goes beyond any other book I know to show fiber artists how to craft with color.

As an art-school graduate, Laura became fascinated with hand-dyed yarns when she first saw them at a trade show in the early 1980’s, and learned how to dye yarns as a result. She founded her own hand-dyed yarn company, photo by Amy StephensPrism, and out of the necessity of having to showcase those yarns, she became a knitwear designer. Both of those talents are shown to amazing advantage in Artful Color, Mindful Knits. She can show you how to stack your colors, how to splash your colors, even how to create an argyle pattern with your skein, all by using her Magic Number system that uses the length of a color repeat, the amount of yarn used for a single stitch, and the total number of stitches. Period. When I learned how to anticipate and even plan when a color shows up in your knitting to form a pattern, I wanted to award Laura a Nobel Prize. The designs that accompany the various color schemes are gorgeous. Jackets, hats, scarves, vests, and sweaters, all in vivid colors and patterns that show a master’s touch are readily accessible to any knitter or crocheter.

Artful Color, Mindful Knits includes a thorough color tutorial in the front of the book, which is eye-opening. Laura shows readers in simple language how colors interact with each other and how we perceive them. This helps us plan how to use color and what colors work best in hundreds of different patterns and yarns.  The book also has a wonderful technique section in the back of the book, showing how to do various cast-ons, increases and decreases, and bind-offs, as well as crochet techniques. It’s really a treasure trove of information, one that will be used again and again.ArtfulColor-7

Hey, local blog-readers: Laura will be coming to WEBS on June 7 to sign copies of her new book from 3:30–4:30pm. Come by to see the Prism Yarns trunk show or sign up for her Introduction to Color class. You will be amazed at what you can do!